Car Reviews

LA Auto Show: White Space Crossovers

LA Auto Show: White Space Crossovers Brands are eager to fill out their CUV lineups. By Randy Lioz, Editor, Car-ED.com | December 2018 Sport utilities, particularly crossover vehicles on car-based platforms (as opposed to rugged truck-based SUVs), have continued to take over the passenger car market. By the end of October of last year, automakers had sold 15% more utilities than cars. Over that same period this year that advantage has grown to 42%! There's no sign of this trend abating, which means that the industry continues to pour resources into developing new utilities to fill every possible niche. But good ideas are contagious, so there are definitely plenty of commonalities in the vehicles that are hitting the market. At the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show there are several brand new utilities on display that buyers should check out. The first two that we'll highlight have similar missions for their brands. The Chevrolet Blazer and Honda Passport each revive names from the past that recall the era in which SUVs first started to gain prominence. The original Blazer and Passport were 5-seater midsized truck-based SUVs, competitors to the popular Ford Explorer and Nissan Pathfinder from the '90s. These new-for-'19 models follow a similar formula, in that they're midsized and ready for the dirt trails, though both are car-based, which allows for better space and fuel efficiency. The third vehicle that deserves attention in this [...]

2018-12-11T21:29:19+00:00 Dec 2018|Car Reviews|

First Impressions: 2019 Infiniti QX50 Essential

2019 Infiniti QX50 Essential This luxury crossover plays it pretty safe... until it comes to pricing. By Cherise Threewitt, Contributor, Car-ED.com | October 2018 The Infiniti QX50, a compact crossover, disappeared from the market after 2017. Now it’s back with a full redesign and an interesting new engine. We had the chance to check out a loaded Infiniti QX50 at the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) Fall Rally in early October. Here are our first impressions.  The QX50 looks good inside and out, and it’s comfortable to drive. The seats are comfortable and easy to adjust. The display is in a nice spot on the dash, which makes it easy to see the navigation system because it’s in the shade. The downside of that is that the infotainment screen is uncomfortably low (below the navigation display) and it sometimes feels like you’re looking too far off the road. Our test vehicle featured a two-tone interior with an unusual color combination of cream and an odd grayish-brown — not our favorite, but easy enough to change. Overall, visibility is good, but the QX50 has a sculpted hood that creeps up into view and can be kind of distracting. Probably something you’d get used to over time, or find a different seating position to compensate. Infiniti powers the QX50 with an all-new engine, a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with variable compression, paired with a [...]

2018-10-29T06:52:31+00:00 Oct 2018|Car Reviews|

First Impressions: 2018 Ford Expedition Max Platinum

2018 Ford Expedition Max Platinum How big of an SUV do you need, really? By Cherise Threewitt, Contributor, Car-ED.com | October 2018 The Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) Fall Rally, which took place in October at the Autobahn Country Club southwest of Chicago, gave car-ED the opportunity to check out a bunch of vehicles we might not have otherwise seen. The 2018 Ford Expedition Max Platinum caught our attention — how could it not? The largest version of this large SUV dominated the vehicle parking area. It’s understandable that this Expedition wasn’t allowed out on the track, so we hopped in and headed out to the country roads that surround the country club. Based on that brief drive, here are our thoughts on this super-sized version of the Expedition. The Ford Expedition, the brand’s large, traditional SUV, is available in three trim levels, all of which can be upgraded to the extended-wheelbase Max. Thus, the Max Platinum is the top-tier Expedition with extra passenger room and an additional 15 cubic feet of cargo space. It’s huge, yet comfortable and surprisingly easy to handle. The overall vibe of the Expedition’s cabin is rather masculine, thanks to black leather upholstery, dark trim, and a beefy steering wheel. The seats are extremely comfortable, which is nice, and there are some touches that help lighten everything up, such as a massive panoramic moonroof and a stylish [...]

2018-10-29T06:53:00+00:00 Oct 2018|Car Reviews|

First Impressions: 2018 Ford Mustang GT

2018 Ford Mustang GT This member of the stable brings distinctive personality. By Cherise Threewitt, Contributor, Car-ED.com | October 2018 The Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) Fall Rally, which took place at Autobahn Country Club in Illinois in early October, featured some interesting and attention-getting vehicles from Ford. Among them were the Ford Mustang GT and Mustang Bullitt. Ford representatives on hand at the event assured us that the two cars feel very different, despite the fact that they share a powertrain. We thought we’d start with just one and see how the day progressed. Here are our first impressions of the 2018 Ford Mustang GT, based on a few lead-follow laps of the Autobahn Country Club track. The Mustang GT ranks about mid-pack in the complicated Mustang hierarchy. It’s at the top of the “mainstream” Mustang trim levels and below the high-performance Shelby models. From there, you can further drill down to Fastback (the model provided at the MAMA event), Premium Fastback, and Premium Convertible models. In practical terms? That means the Mustang GT comes with a bunch of standard features, though we didn’t have much time to play around with them as we queued up for the track. The Recaro seats were very nice and supportive, for example, but the adjustments felt a little finicky. The cabin of the Mustang GT has a lot going on, it must be said, [...]

2018-10-29T06:53:39+00:00 Oct 2018|Car Reviews|

First Impressions: 2019 Toyota Avalon Touring

2019 Toyota Avalon Touring Style and sophistication, but at what price? By Cherise Threewitt, Contributor, Car-ED.com | October 2018 The Toyota Avalon, the brand’s large sedan, gets a full redesign for 2019. We had an opportunity to see the all-new Avalon in top-tier Touring trim at the Midwest Automotive Media Association Fall Rally in October and came away impressed… with one major caveat. It’s a well-rounded car and it wears its new styling well. Here are our impressions of the Avalon based on a short drive around the Autobahn Country Club grounds in Joliet, Illinois. Unfortunately, this Toyota was allowed on the street course only, no track, but we got a good sense of the car during that time. The Avalon’s cabin is nice without being ostentatious. The seats, trimmed in synthetic leather, offer lots of adjustments, and the perforated steering wheel feels good in the hands. The center console is high and comes up to meet a high armrest, which creates a strong division of space between driver and passenger and makes the car feel nice and roomy. We didn’t have much time to play with the infotainment system, but, like other current Toyota models, it seems nice and straightforward. Unfortunately, the whole cabin feels a little too angular — almost like the designers were trying to remind us of the front grille. The dash line is really swoopy with a [...]

2018-10-29T06:54:08+00:00 Oct 2018|Car Reviews|

Compare and Contrast: 2019 Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra

Compare and Contrast: 2019 Chevrolet Silverado & GMC Sierra There's more to set these trucks apart then ever. By Randy Lioz, Editor, Car-ED.com | October 2018 What are these vehicles? The Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra are General Motors' two full-sized pickup entries, the combination of which allows GM to challenge its crosstown rival Ford in this segment. These two trucks are capable of reporting for duty for full-scale work tasks, like hauling huge payloads and serious trailering, but like the rest of the full-sized truck segment they've become luxurious and feature-packed enough to serve as daily drivers. If you spend any time in the great state of Texas, you'll quickly realize how many people are actually doing this. While these two trucks are quite similar overall, GM has focused a lot in recent years on differentiation among its brands, and with their debut for the 2019 model year, these all-new trucks are as distinct from one another as they've ever been. While they continue to over differences in terms of styling and interior materials, GMC is now focusing on packing the Sierra full of innovative tech, much of which isn't available in the Silverado, to appeal to a different set of buyers. Who are these vehicles for? Any full-sized pickup now needs to appeal to personal-use buyers just as much as commercial customers, so these trucks focus on both [...]

2018-11-05T14:20:04+00:00 Oct 2018|Car Reviews|

2019 Honda Pilot Elite AWD

2019 Honda Pilot Elite AWD This family SUV does most things well. By Cherise Threewitt, Contributor, Car-ED.com | October 2018 What is this vehicle? The Honda Pilot is a family-friendly three-row SUV. The Pilot is known for above-average reliability, for spacious passenger seating and cargo areas, and for affordable convenience and driver assistance features. This is also one of the more comfortable, easy to drive vehicles in the segment. Unlike some of its competitors, the Pilot avoids falling into the trap of trying to be sporty, which is a wise decision on Honda’s part. The Honda Pilot was last redesigned in 2016 and gets some minor updates to the features menu this year. Who is this vehicle for? Looking for an affordable midsize SUV that can seat up to eight passengers, and is spacious enough for adults to find a comfortable spot in the back row? You really only have a few choices, and the Pilot is one of them. Of course, if you’re willing to compromise rear space and just leave the third row for the kids, you’ll have more options, but the Pilot doesn’t ask you to make that compromise. In short, the Pilot is a very good vehicle for a family, especially when you take a look at its safety and convenience features. Why is this vehicle important to you, the buyer? The Pilot was already a pretty [...]

2018-10-09T14:21:56+00:00 Oct 2018|Car Reviews|

Autocross: 2018 Chevrolet Bolt EV

Autocross: 2018 Chevrolet Bolt EV Chevy sets out to prove the Bolt can be a jolt of high-voltage fun...and puts a smile on our face. By Randy Lioz, Editor, Car-ED.com | October 2018 Sales of the Chevy Bolt EV have been building steadily, as more Americans discover the benefits of EV ownership. While there are still challenges to overcome in terms of charging infrastructure, Chevy is eager to make the case that electric vehicles are not only just as much driving fun as internal combustion rides, they can be even more of a hoot! The Event Chevy invited journalists to drive an autocross course in the Bolt, to show that it can handle itself during aggressive driving. There were four Bolts there, two each with both all-season tires and much grippier summer rubber. The team also brought one of the industry benchmarks for front-wheel drive hatch fun, the Volkswagen GTI, so we could see how GM's EV stacks up against a gas-powered rival. For those who haven't yet experienced the joy of autocrossing, it's generally a parking lot—find one without many light poles if you can swing it—with a bunch of cones set up in the form of a road course. The course configurators will throw in some slaloms to weave through, some tighter turns and some high-speed sweepers, so you can get a feel for all of a car's handling characteristics...and of [...]

2018-10-03T00:27:01+00:00 Oct 2018|Car Reviews|

First Drive: 2018 BMW X2

2018 BMW X2 xDrive28i BMW builds a shorter, lower, and sportier version of the X1 SUV. Is the X2 a better choice, or does it lose the sport-utility plot? By Nick Kurczewski, Contributor, Car-ED.com | September 2018 The 2018 BMW X2 is a racier-looking version of the existing BMW X1. A punchy four-cylinder engine and sharp handling give the X2 a dynamic edge, but is that enough when squared-off against the best from Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Cadillac, Lincoln, Lexus, and Acura? What is this vehicle? The 2018 BMW X2 is based on the taller and longer X1 sport-utility, the German automaker's smallest entry in the red-hot market for affordable luxury SUVs. Rivals to the X2 include the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class, Lincoln MKC, Volvo XC40, Lexus NX, Audi Q3, Cadillac XT4, and Infiniti QX30. Instead of emphasizing the amount of cup-holders and available cargo space, BMW has opted to focus the new X2 on the sportier side of the sport-utility segment. This is why the X2 is roughly three inches shorter than the X1, though it rides on an identical wheelbase. That's a good thing, since it means the X2 doesn't skimp on rear legroom, which is a key factor for many SUV buyers - even ones who don't need third-row seating, or the towing capacity of a big-rig truck. With a starting price of $36,400, the X2 is more a couple thousand dollars more expensive [...]

2018-09-28T12:07:29+00:00 Sep 2018|Car Reviews|

First Drive: 2019 Cadillac XT4

2019 Cadillac XT4 Cadillac finally the small luxury SUV fight to rivals like the Lexus NX, Volvo XC40, Mercedes-Benz GLA, and Audi Q3. Does the Caddy come out as the new champ? By Nick Kurczewski, Contributor, Car-ED.com | September 2018 The 2019 Cadillac XT4 is a small SUV with a huge job ahead of it: To make the American luxury brand a contender in the red-hot market for compact SUVs that are big on safety, style, performance, and technology. What is this vehicle? The 2019 Cadillac XT4 is a small SUV that fills a huge gap in the American luxury brand's lineup of vehicles. Until now, Cadillac had only two SUVs on offer, the midsize XT5 crossover and the full-size Escalade SUV. Neither one was an ideal fit for the automotive world's hottest craze, the premium compact sport-utility. While rival brands offered pint-sized SUVs - like the Mercedes-Benz GLA, Lexus NX, Audi Q3, and BMW X1 - Cadillac was left outside looking in, at least until now. Powered by a turbocharged four-cylinder engine and available with front- or optional all-wheel drive, the XT4 carries an aggressive starting price of $35,790 (including destination fee) and streamlines the shopping experience into three main trim levels: Premium, Premium Luxury, and Sport. No matter which you choose, the powertrain remains the same, and adding all-wheel drive costs an additional $2,500 across the board. While the turbo engine [...]

2018-09-24T20:23:42+00:00 Sep 2018|Car Reviews|
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